Magazine article New Zealand Management

Targeting the Training Dollar: With a Myriad of Educational Options to Choose from, How Do Organisations Ensure They Get the Best Return on Their Executive Training Investment? Vicki Jayne Checks out Current Training Trends and Executive Programme Rankings

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Targeting the Training Dollar: With a Myriad of Educational Options to Choose from, How Do Organisations Ensure They Get the Best Return on Their Executive Training Investment? Vicki Jayne Checks out Current Training Trends and Executive Programme Rankings

Article excerpt

Whether you need to strengthen soft skills, smarten up on strategic planning or perfect your project management performance, there's a plethora of training programmes catering to almost every executive skill deficiency.

There's also no shortage of local executive training providers--from polytechs and universities to private or institutional specialists. Their offerings range from full or part-time degree courses to brief but punchy training top-ups or customised leadership programmes.

But while New Zealand execs are positively spoilt for choice at mid-level, it seems we may be lacking critical weight at the top end of executive education. For that, our top managers still tend to head offshore.

In the public service, for instance, more senior folk are now being dispatched to offshore centres generally in the UK but also in Australia and the US, says Alan Cassidy, manager of executive development in the state sector's Leadership Development Centre.

"Some of that has to do with the shortage in New Zealand of super high quality presenters or faculty. I think probably it's a factor of having a relatively small population--there's not really a big critical mass. We're talking about only a relatively small number of people that this training would be suitable for.

"There is also a strong belief that the high calibre of an offshore training programme is a seminal career experience--in part because you're networking with people from very diverse and large organisations. It's also because of the research flavour those programmes have.

"Often they're coming from universities or institutions that are engaged in leading edge research in leadership and management."

The sort of people you rub shoulders with on such courses is a big attraction, agrees Gabriella Meden, director of the Training Network in Auckland.

"New Zealand offers some very good leadership development programmes at quite a high level but there's still a trend to go offshore for particular individuals to get that senior management level training. There's the reputation these schools have and there are also networking opportunities we don't quite have here.

"So it's about development but it's also about working with other organisations and a more diverse group of people."

Topping the offshore popularity poll are the prestigious names such as Henley, Stanford, Harvard or Wharton. Closer to home, Australia's Graduate School of Management (AGSM) courses are highly regarded by those who've attended, says Cassidy.

Australia's Mt Eliza Centre for Executive Education also gets a mention as a learning destination for a number of New Zealand executives. A particularly popular offshore programme at present is the Templeton College programme on strategic leadership run out of Oxford, notes Cassidy.

He is in the process of gathering evaluation data on the various senior-level programmes based on people who've attended or utilising resources such as the Brickers Executive Education Search.

"We do a bit of a broking service--people come to us to ask what various programmes are like and we have some data and information on these."

And what about local options?

In terms of providers, the University of Auckland's Business School seems to have earned a good reputation for its management training--as does Waikato University's Management School. Meden describes the executive training "pool" in New Zealand as quite strong.

However she also notes that many of the offerings such as Forum, Blanchards or Four Quadrant Leadership are based offshore--"so all the research development is done overseas but they have local representatives here". …

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